- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2002

Syrian dam collapse causes heavy casualties

DAMASCUS, Syria A dam collapsed in central Syria yesterday, resulting in heavy casualties and widespread damage, the state-run SANA news agency said.

The agency said the collapse of the Zeyzoun dam caused a flood that inundated a large portion of the Alghab region, doing massive damage to a number of villages and their residents.

There was no immediate indication of how many people had been affected by the collapse of the dam, which was north of the city of Hama.

Uruguayan president apologizes to Argentines

BUENOS AIRES Teary-eyed Uruguayan President Jorge Batlle landed here yesterday to ask forgiveness from Argentines, all of whom he characterized as "thieves" on a television program broadcast here.

"Argentines are a pack of thieves, every last one of them," Mr. Battle said during an interview on Bloomberg television Monday.

He said Argentine President Eduardo Duhalde "has no political power [or] backing and doesn't know where he's heading."

Argentina reacted by calling the Uruguayan ambassador to the Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires on Monday and by sending the Argentine ambassador to the Foreign Ministry in Montevideo.

Yesterday, Mr. Duhalde opted to let bygones be bygones.

Neighboring Uruguay and Argentina are frequent rivals but also trade partners within the Mercosur trading bloc in the southern cone of South America.

Spanish parliament OKs Basque party ban

MADRID Spanish deputies approved with a large majority yesterday a bill outlawing the political arm of the Basque radical ETA group, the Batasuna party, as part of a government-led campaign to ban parties deemed to be supporting terrorism.

With the backing of the ruling People's Party and the opposition Socialists, the bill was approved by 304 deputies.

The bill must be submitted to the Senate for approval on June 25, allowing it to go into affect as early as July.

Mad cow disease discovered in Israel

JERUSALEM The first case of mad cow disease has been discovered in Israel. The Agriculture Ministry said yesterday that tests on a dairy cow that died on a communal farm in the Golan Heights came back positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Israel will test the brains of slaughtered cattle over 30 months before the meat is sold for human consumption, the ministry said. But officials are not concerned about the disease spreading in Israel because research has shown that kosher slaughter methods help prevent the spread of mad cow disease, a ministry official said.

Jewish ritual slaughter is performed by slitting a cow's throat. Other methods of slaughtering cows, such as driving pins into their heads, can cause brain damage that forces the disease to spread, another official said.

Chretien warns party dissidents

OTTAWA Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien warned dissident members of his Liberal Party yesterday to stop trying to undermine his authority or the country could end up with a right-wing, obsequiously pro-American government.

Mr. Chretien is under fire from many in his caucus for having sacked one of the party's most popular figures,Finance Minister Paul Martin. As a result of the firing, the prime minister is likely to face a campaign to unseat him as party leader at a Liberal leadership review to be held in February.

Speaking after trying to rally Cabinet ministers, Mr. Chretien said that if the Martin supporters force an election, they risk turning power over to opposition leader Stephen Harper of the law-and-order Canadian Alliance.

"If they destroy the Liberal Party, the alternative is Harper," Mr. Chretien said.

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